Art and Superheroines

Tonight I am reposting this trending article by David Brothers from Comics Alliance. The title of the article is ‘Art and Superheroines: When Over-sexualization Kills the Story’ and compares the work by two very different artists who both illustrate Wonder Woman.

(Superheroines is also not a word in the spell-check dictionary- but that’s a different discussion.)

When I first read this article I realized this is the story of my life. As an artist and a woman I am often disgusted when fetishized versions of the Superheroines I look up to worm their way into my life, the comics, and ultimately ruin the story. I find myself slapping the comic into my face asking: “Was that really necessary?” Answer: It was not.

I am not asking for censorship or for these artists to stifle their creativity. I’m just asking them to stop being so lecherous. Lecherousness breeds lecherousness. For example: You are a woman at a convention. You are cosplaying as Wonder Woman. You start to notice that when people smile you, there is something in their eyes that makes you uncomfortable. You wish that Wonder Woman wore a sweater instead of a bustier. Someone’s been following you. You hadn’t noticed before, but they’ve been taking pictures of you the whole time. (True story, but I was dressed as Momiji from Fruits Basket.)

Now, which Wonder Woman do you think they saw you as?:

Ed Benes

Cliff Chiang


Although usually when I read the comment section on articles like this I hate myself, I came across this from a poster by the name of Larry:

“I agree with Brothers, and I appreciate his approach to this issue. First, let me make clear that I am an avid collector of comics and have been for thirty years. Now then, while I find the depiction of female characters degrading and insulting to women, I also find it insulting to me a male–the idea that all I am is an animal attracted to sex and incapable of using my brain to think. However, making this argument is not going to have a single effect on the comics industry; the industry exists to make money, and the industry will continue to sell what it believes will make money. The industry is not really interested in art or intellectual stimulation, though it will pay lip-service to such ideas. Therefore, Brothers very intelligently speaks in terms the industry will understand–if the stories stink, the comics don’t sell, and the industry loses money. And I agree with him that the stories stink–the art is so oversexualized that it does distract from the story, and the comic as a whole ceases to be a work of art. Furthermore, the art is illogical–the female characters are NOT going to be dressed as they are for any practical reason, and most of them could never function (i.e. walk) if they were shaped as they are either. I know that some are going to say, “Of course, these characters are illogical. It’s a comic. It’s fiction. It’s all illogical and fantastical.” My reply is that I enjoy stories that exist within the realm of logical possibility or at least trick me into believing that they exist within the realm of possibility. I cannot be tricked into thinking that a woman with breasts larger than her head and who walks around in the position of someone impaled is going to fight off a villain or even stand up long enough to intimidate a villain. However, I sadly hold little hope that things will change.
One writer below expresses that he sees nothing wrong with what’s going on in comics; he thinks that creating ridiculously oversexualized women leads to greater appreciation and encouragement of women; and he writes with this kind of spelling and grammar: “a sexy women in a positve role that is just insain.” The comic industry knows the majority of its consumer population is only as intelligent as this person; thus, the industry will continue to publish this trash because it is going to continue to make money from consumers like this guy.”

But then there was this:

“Wonder Woman is a sex symbol. Always has been always will be so any examples with her should be thrown out the window entirely. No point in elaborating on that any further. This article was a waste of time, they’re over sexualized because thats just the nature of the genre. Comic characters represent ideals i.e. the “ideal” attractive yet strong woman. Applies to the male characters too, look at Green Lantern (or Superman for that matter) in that picture posted. He’s got muscles in places most people don’t have places. Anyone who is suggesting this leads to the way young males develop as adults is either biased or simply uneducated. Look around the media, this stuff is everywhere. If you want realism or something more conservative, read a novel.”

This sort of makes me wish I was a Superheroine so that I could get off this planet. Instead, I must play the role of BatCat the internet blogging Superheroine who stands up for the rights of the downtrodden every Tuesday night though her jointly-owned super blog!


One thought on “Art and Superheroines

  1. hate to be the one to break it to larry, but my breasts are bigger than my head, and i stand all the time and sometimes fight bad guys. however, i am not a superheroine or sex symbol…yet.

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